I despise the coronavirus. To paraphrase R.E.M., I do not feel fine about the end of the world as we know it. Of course it’s not the end of the world altogether, however bad things seem right now everything could be worse. I’m fairly sure North Korea was about to blow everyone up with nuclear bombs a few months back. It could have been longer though, keeping track of time these days is tricky.

Apologies, the outbreak of global thermonuclear war is hardly a cheerful alternative to the state of the world today if you’re looking for positives. But moving back to the way things were before, aka normal life, feels eons away, if indeed it can be done. The idea that things won’t have permanently changed in societal, economic and political terms by the time the coronavirus evaporates into the ether seems unlikely, if it ever does.

What we know for sure is that hospitality has always played an enjoyable role in society and is an essential part of the economy, generating £130bn a year and employing 3.2 million people. Relatively speaking, politics has always played a much smaller role in its destiny, although issues like escalating business rates and the introduction of a rising national living wage created tangible pressures. But in March the government stepped in to play the role of a lifetime and shut hospitality down completely.

We all know why. And there is plenty to read in the upcoming issue of MCA on how some operators feel about this momentous decision. But the real ire is reserved for how the government has handled the situation since then, and how it plans to handle it going forward. Having ordered the industry to shut down for months then expecting it to suddenly reopen on ever shifting dates is as feasible as Dominic Cumming’s excuse for testing his eyesight.

Not to waste too many words on the PM’s right hand man, but for someone regarded as a brilliant political strategist his three main achievements appear to be delivering Brexit, getting Boris Johnson elected as PM, and destroying the credibility of the government’s lockdown strategy. Presumably his next hat-trick will be to head to Wuhan, eat some wild bats, then fly home and start spitting at people.

But back to hospitality, and there is an unfortunately long list of issues that have to be addressed before anyone can plan to reopen properly, and they mostly revolve around money, clarity and detail. Consumer confidence does need to be factored in, but that is outside the control of anyone other than the individual concerned.

Yes, the government could push out messages that it’s safe for people to socialise again, but having spent months explicitly instructing everyone not to, it’s an inescapable truth that the mindset of the average consumer has changed.

If I swerve around someone on the pavement it’s with a reassuring smile and a nod from us both, an unspoken communication that says thank you for keeping your distance. And that reality is not compatible with crowded bars, pubs and restaurants. It may not be that way for everyone, but it is that way for enough people to make it a problem.

We all know that if bars, pubs and restaurants aren’t crowded they aren’t economically viable. For all the debate over two metres versus one, for many operators any distancing measures at all compromise any hope of profitability. And looking at the situation objectively it’s a mess, and I imagine many operators would use less polite words to describe the situation they find themselves in. It remains unclear as to how the industry can possibly reopen en-masse.

Not just safely, but financially. This isn’t a money-grabbing industry, it’s one that cares about its employees and its customers. It brings fun and laughter to the country. It has always been part of the social fabric. And it’s no different in any other part of the world.

Globally, we all find ourselves part of the consequences of a pandemic, the likes of which has never been experienced before. Still, it’s not unreasonable to expect the government to step up and assist hospitality, a crucial part of our society, to play the role in any economic recovery it’s desperate to do. The industry needs clarity and detail, it needs guidance, it needs fiscal support. So let’s hope the government, which has made some positive moves like the JRS, but has clearly mishandled many aspects of the coronavirus crisis, does just that. And does it soon.